Implications of Yankees hosting Cuban star Yulieski Gourriel for workout

The Yankees have been known to be buyers in the international market, which has led to signings of Jorge Mateo, Domingo Acevedo, Wilkerman Garcia, and others. However, the Yankees have yet to sign an MLB-ready, stud international free agent. They were unable to sign Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, and they failed to sign Yoan Moncada, who went to Boston, and is now one of the top prospects in all of baseball, amongst many others that they passed on. But 32-year-old Cuban stud Yulieski Gourriel is different. He will be exempt from the international spending limitations due to his age and professional experience. He’s ready to help an MLB team immediately, and the Yankees are interested as they just recently hosted a workout for the Cuban defector.
Photo via Yulieski Gourriel's Instagram
Standing at 6’0” tall and weighing 196 pounds, Gourriel presents MLB size for a guy who has limited experience at second base and is primarily a third baseman. Even still, Gourriel’s size is not going to blow anyone away, and not reminiscent of Cuban physical specimen Moncada who is 6'2" and weighs 205 pounds at 21-years-old. But what is jaw-dropping is Gourriel’s numbers at the dish in Cuba. In 17 seasons in Cuba (925 games), Gourriel has slugged 250 homers, driven in 1018 runs, stole 121 bases, and hit to an incredible slash line of .335/.417/.580, good for a career OPS of .997. Just last season, Gourriel hit to a .500/.589/.974 slash line with 15 home runs in just 49 games. Yulieski Gourriel is a Cuban hero, and he is one of the greatest players of all-time in Cuba. Gourriel’s production has led to comparisons to MLB star Adrian Beltre. His numbers at the plate aren’t even the most exciting part about him. The best part about Gourriel is his desire to play for the New York Yankees.
Yulieski Gurriel | Picture Credit: Kevork Djansezian | Getty Images
Already, Yulieski Gourriel has reached out to Aroldis Chapman about his experiences with the New York Yankees, and what it is like to dawn the pinstripes. Gourriel has also made it known that his favorite baseball player is Alex Rodriguez. With the Yankee connection already there, the Pinstripers are emerging as one of the front-runners to sign him.

“He has asked me many questions,” Chapman said. “But that’s normal because, Cuban people, they always want to ask you how’s the baseball at this level, what’s the organization and all that. It’s typical for Cuban people to ask questions about the Yankees.”

Chapman then proceded to tell Yulieski what is is like to play for the New York Yankees.

“Definitely the environment here is different from anywhere else,” Chapman said about the Yankees. “I’ve only been with two teams but for me this is the best environment I’ve been in. it’s a nice atmosphere here. The clubhouse, too.”

Talk about a strong recommendation. From his further comments, it is evident that Chapman will not do any extra recruiting to bring Gourriel to the Yankees (partially because he is subject to many trade talks), but for Chapman to relay encouraging words about the Yankees to Gourriel is exciting. Chapman also said that Gourriel has all the ready tools to enjoy success at the big league level.

Yulieski Gourriel also has a younger brother, Lourdes, who is 22-years-old. Lourdes stands at 6'2" and weighs 183 pounds. He is not yet MLB-ready, but he could become a solid player in the big leagues. Lourdes may also be seeking a major league deal, although that is not certain. The two are often viewed as a package deal.

Lourdes owns a career slash line of .277/.362/.426 with 27 home runs, 161 RBI, and 23 SB in 305 career games. Ben Badler of Baseball America has compared Lourdes’ game to that of a young Ryan Zimmerman. On the flipside, Badler has compared Yulieski to David Wright and Hanley Ramirez based on the combination of speed and power.
Lourdes Gurriel | Picture Credit: Ismael Francisco | Cubadebate
There is no doubt that Yulieski Gourriel is ready to help an MLB team today, and his brother Lourdes is not far away from helping a big league squad. However, Chase Headley appears to be blocking Yulieski (though Yulieski is an upgrade over Headley and is roughly one month younger than him), so if the Yankees can manage to trade Headley, signing the Cuban brothers may be inevitable. If the Yankees are unwilling to trade Headley, or relegate him to a platoon role, then the Yankees may not be serious contenders in the Gourriel brothers’ sweepstakes.

All in all, the Yankees should seriously consider signing the Gourriel brothers, but Yulieski, in particular. He is sure to get paid well over a few years by a major league team, and Yankee fans better hope that team is the Bronx Bombers.

Article by: Chad Raines
Follow me on twitter @Chad_Rain
Follow the BBB @BronxBomberBlog
Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference

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